Get Sideways! Learn to Drift with HPI

By now, everyone who’s a fan of motorsport has heard of 'drifting' – the driving style that has exploded across the petrolhead scene to capture the imagination of car nuts everywhere and fascinate fans around the world! HPI Racing makes it easy to copy the amazing drift technique and style of the top 'drift kings' with a selection of tips, videos and a massive range of bodyshells, wheels, tires and much more!

Full-size drifting competitions consist of drivers controlling their car around a racing circuit to gain style points from judges and spectators. The more style, drift angle, tire smoke and noise you can maintain around a fixed course, the more points you get!
Drifting isn’t about crossing the finish line first, it’s about showing off to the crowd and getting more cheers than the other guy! To get a car to physically drift around a corner, the driver puts power to the rear tires to break traction and swing around the rear end of the car, while still accelerating the car forward through the turn. Using the throttle, precise steering and subtle braking, the driver maintains the drift around the turn and guides the car to the next turn.
To learn more about how to drift an RC car, check out our Drift Driving Technique tips sheet (PDF)!
Of course, drifting isn’t just about getting around the track – the look, the style and upgrading the car is half the fun of being involved with the drifting lifestyle! Fabulous assets/images, deep-dish wheels, loads of chrome, fat exhausts and wild, unique styling are all part of the show. For some car fans, the driving and skill is what's important to them, and showing off extreme angles while burning up a set of tires around the corners is what gets a big grin on their face. For others, the clean and polish of a finely crafted machine is how they get their kicks, and checking out the detail and extent of customization on their own car or someone else's is what really gets them going!
The beauty of the drifting and import racing scene is that it can easily accomodate both extremes of car nut: the driver or the detail geek!

Check out these amazing drift videos available in our Videos section!

Okay, now you've seen the videos and seen how it works at real speed - let's go step by step and show you how to get started drifting!

For this step, you don't need to change your differential or suspension settings. Keep everything as you would keep it for 'grip' or normal racing. The only things you'll need to get started is a set of drift tires - start with hard compound tires like the #4406 T-Drift tire or #4402 tire to begin with.
  1. Start by approaching the corner at a quick speed. The more you accelerate, the more stable the car will be.
  2. As you get to the apex, accelerate faster than normal to break rear traction.
  3. The rear end should start sliding, giving you a 'tailslide'. When this happens, countersteer back to neutral and accelerate away.
You've just completed the first step in drifting! When you're able to do this consistently, you can move on to trying to drift completely around a corner. Keep practicing this first step to perform the tail slide smoothly.

Again, keep the same diff and tire settings as for grip racing.
  1. Drive into the same corner you were practicing with in step one, but instead of braking and then turning like you would in grip racing, turn the steer and brake hard at the same time to break the back end loose. This starts your 'drift swing'.
  2. Counter-steer to keep the nose of the car pointed towards the apex until the car gets past the apex, then steer back to neutral as you exit the turn, and accelerate away.
To link up a sequence of curves use the drift swing technique to get you smoothly through the curves. Between the turns, release the throttle for a moment to increase how much the counter-steer affects the car, then accelerate again as the car starts turning into the following curve.
Remember that the more of an angle you can keep through the corner and the more graceful the car is, the cooler it will look and the more points you'll earn from any judges, whether you're at an organized competition or just thrashing about with your mates.

As you make the move into high performance drifting, you'll need to start adjusting your car settings. If you want to maximize the amount of counter-steer you use, keep the front diff as standard but use a tighter rear diff setting, either by tightening the diff screw or using heavier grease.
To focus more on extreme drift angle, use a front one-way diff while tightening the rear diff as described for more counter-steer action.
For both types of drifting, use a much softer suspension setting than for the earlier steps by using a spring that is a couple of steps softer than standard and slightly thinner shock oil. You can adjust the suspension links but keep it simple for now and just adjust the shocks by themselves.
To create a big drift angle, brake before entering the corner and control the throttle to pass the apex with a large angle. For an EP (electric-powered) car, use a front one-way for rear braking to quickly change the direction and accelerate.
Try to keep the car from spinning. Be gentle on the throttle when using a front differential or exiting the corner.
You can make further adjustments to correct spins or bad angles by adjusting the toe or camber settings of your car.

The ultimate challenge for drift masters is driving with other cars in what is called the 'twin drift'. Both cars are sliding through the corner, just inches from one another, as the drivers delicately balance brake and throttle inputs to either pull away from the car behind, or catch up to the car ahead. It's even tougher when the drivers have wildly different drifting styles - it takes a lot of nerve and a lot of skill to do it right!
Download the complete Drift Driving Technique tips sheet (PDF) here, and keep a copy with you as you practice at the track!
To help you advance your drift skills, check out the Videos section!!


HPI offers several kits that are great for drifting, and even specific drifting kits that are designed from the ground up for drifting fun! HPI drifting kits feature special hard-compound drift tires, replica wheels from actual Japanese racing companies, Japanese drift style bodyshells and wild assets/images that fit right in with the drifting look. Many HPI cars are set up for drifting right out of the box, just look for the word 'Drift' in the name of the kit. 
Nitro 3 Drift Conversion Set
In addition to getting a drift-specific kit, Nitro 3 car owners who want to get sideways could also use our #33432 Stage D Conversion Kit handy, as it contains everything necessary to fully convert your car into an all-out drift attack car! The conversion kit shifts the engine forward and moves the exhaust system and fuel tank to the rear, all to provide a more satisfying drift experience with optimized weight balance and handling.
Drift Options for your car
You don’t need to buy a specific kit just for drifting, though – that’s just the easiest way to get into it! It’s simple to convert any car into a drift machine, using HPI bodies, wheels and tires. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a Nitro or electric car, we’ll show you how to get started drifting! You can easily convert several HPI or HB cars into pure drift monsters! ANY touring or micro car can be turned into a real drift machine! To show you how, we’ll walk you through the huge selection of HPI options that will allow you to get your car to look the part!

What type of body is the best fit for drifting?Because the sport of drifting originally came from mountain racers in Japan, the most famous drivers and types of cars are Japanese, however a wide range of European and American drivers and cars are making their name on the professional drifting competition circuit. For scale realism purposes, bodyshells representing rear-wheel drive cars work best, but bodyshells of any type can be used.
Listed below is a selection of HPI bodyshells that are perfect for drifting. In addition to these, American models such as the Viper, Mustang and more have been making quite an impression on the drifting scene, while in Europe and the UK cars such as the BMW M3 and Japanese imports such as the Nissan 180Z, 350Z, Skyline and others are quite popular.
Drift Bodies for Electric Cars 190mm
#17214 - TOYOTA LEVIN AE86 BODY (190mm)
#17209 - TOYOTA TRUENO AE86 BODY (190mm)
#7382 - MAZDA RX-7 FD3S BODY (190mm / WB255mm)
#7385 - NISSAN 350Z NISMO GT RACE BODY (190mm)
#7388 - MAZDA RX-8 MAZDASPEED A SPEC BODY (190mm / WB255mm)
#7314 - HONDA S2000 BODY (190mm)
#7327 - NISSAN SKYLINE R34 GT-R BODY (190mm)
Drift Bodies for Nitro or Electric Cars 200mm
#17515 - NISSAN SKYLINE R32 GT-R BODY (200mm / WB255mm)
#17506 - 2004 HONDA S2000 BODY (200mm / WB255mm)
#17505 - SUBARU IMPREZA WRC / 2004 Monte Carlo Rally Edition BODY(200mm / WB255mm)
#7486 - TOYOTA SUPRA GT BODY (AU CERUMO / 200mm / WB25 5mm)
#7488 - MAZDA RX-8 MAZDASPEED A SPEC BODY (200mm / WB255mm)
#7485 - NISSAN 350Z NISMO GT RACE BODY (200mm)
#7482 - MAZDA RX-7 FD3S BODY (200mm)
#7479 - NISSAN SILVIA GT BODY (200mm)
#7612 - MAZDA RX-7 FD3S BODY (WB140mm)
#7616 - TOYOTA SUPRA GT BODY (WB140mm)

Naturally, you’ll want to customize the look of your body, and HPI have a huge range of awesome ready-to-apply decals!

Any petrolhead worthy of the name will agree that the first option you get for a real car is a set of alloy wheels, and for scale drifting it’s no different. HPI’s line of touring and drifting wheels are a great match for any drifting bodyshell, and fit the slick and treaded drift tires perfectly. For ultimate scale realism, check out the amazing Volk Racing TE37 wheels in a range of colours – or put your own style forward and choose from the full range of HPI wheels like the famous Super Star, Mesh, Corsa and other designs!
#3835 - TE37 WHEEL 26mm WHITE (0mm OFFSET)
#3841 - TE37 WHEEL 26mm BLACK (3mm OFFSET)
#3847 - TE37 WHEEL 26mm CHROME (6mm OFFSET)
#3712 - MESH WHEEL 26mm CHROME (1mm OFFSET)
#3798 - SPLIT 6 WHEEL 26mm GOLD
#3804 - 12 SPOKE CORSA WHEEL GOLD 26mm (3mm OFFSET) Micro Wheels
Wheel offset guide (for 1/10 scale cars)
HPI offers a variety of wheel designs in different offsets. Using wider offset wheels (more than 0mm offset) effectively widens the width of the car (measured at outer edges of tires, where they touch the ground). This allows you, in many cases, to fit a ‘wide’ or 200mm wide bodyshell on a ‘narrow’ or 190mm wide chassis. See below for a general guideline on how to match up bodyshells, car chassis and different offset wheels. Keep in mind that body widths will vary, a ‘narrow’ bodyshell can be from 185-195mm, for example!
For 190mm wide bodyshells on 190mm wide cars:
  • Use 0mm offset wheels on the front and rear for a ‘normal’ street look.
  • Try 3mm offset wheels to widen the stance of the car and bring the wheels closer to the edges of the body wheel openings.
For 200mm wide bodyshells on 190mm wide cars:
  • Use 3mm offset wheels on the front and rear for a ‘normal’ street look.
  • Try 6mm offset wheels to widen the stance of the car and bring the wheels closer to the edges body wheel openings.
For 190mm wide bodyshells on 200mm wide cars:
  • Use 0mm offset wheels on the front and rear, anything with more offset may force the tires to rub on the bodyshell (1mm offset wheels will probably be fine).
For 200mm wide bodyshells on 200mm wide cars:  
  • Use 0mm offset wheels on the front and rear for a ‘normal’ look.
  • Try 3mm offset wheels to widen the stance of the car and bring the wheels closer to the edges of the body wheel openings.
  • For bodyshells that are noted as having 210mm rear width, use 6mm offset wheels.
Customize your car's look!
Don’t forget you can also customize your wheels with clothing dyes and painting! Make unique statements with contrasting lip colours, custom inner wheel colours, decal placement and more! Check out the possibilities below!

Of course, one thing you’ll definitely need to start drifting are some truly cool kicks. We’re talking about some new shoes, stylish treads: tires, of course! A new set of wheels deserves a new set of tires to get you started down the road to drifting glory. Hard compound drifting tires are available from HPI in a variety of widths and styles, so you can go for the gold and get your slideways action started. Choose from HPI’s original racing-style drift slicks or treaded street performance tires to wrap your wheels with. No special wheels are needed, and they look like the real thing up close!
#4406 – T-Drift Tire 26mm #4402 - SUPER DRIFT TIRE 26mm RADIAL (A TYPE) #34501 - STAGE-D 04S-26 TIRE You can also get the trick drifter look the easy way, using a pre-mounted pair of wheels and tires! #4739 - T-DRIFT TIRE 26mm RAYS 57S-PRO WHEEL CHROME #4704 - MOUNTED SUPER DRIFT TIRE (A TYPE) ON TE37 WHEEL CHROME Micro Wheels #73416 - MICRO DRIFT TIRE SET (FRONT / REAR) #4713 - FRONT TIRE 36x14.5mm (M COMPOUND) caption: use these front tires as a tuning option to give you different levels of front-end grip The hard plastic drift tires like the Stage-D 04S-26 or the T-Drift tire are the easiest to learn with because they have a very low grip characteristic, enabling a car with a standard motor or engine to easily break traction and get sideways. When you have some experience with a hard compound tire, more advanced drifters can achieve amazingly graceful and long drifts with the treaded rubber drift compounds like the Super Drift A Type tire.

Alright, now you’re fully kitted out! You’ve got the ‘show’ with bodyshell, decals, wheels and tires - now you need the ‘go’! What do you need to do after you get your car looking and driving like the ultimate drift bandit? You need to make sure it’s got the power to give it the proper street cred – in most cases this is a very simple matter. Nitro cars Just about any Nitro car will have plenty of power to spare for drifting. Because you are using low-grip tires to slide the car through corners, you don’t need loads of power and you definitely don’t need top speed! Even full-size drift cars don’t need loads of horsepower. Keep the two speed installed, but lock it out by tightening the shifter clutch adjustment all the way down. Use the standard gearing, or if you can, use a clutch bell that is one or two teeth smaller than standard. This will give you a little extra acceleration as you go from turn to turn. Electric cars Like Nitro drift cars, you don’t need high-horsepower motors for drifting. In many cases the standard motor that comes with an RTR electric kit is fine, although as you gain experience try a mild modified motor like a 17-turn or 15-turn. Make sure you use the right gearing for the motor you use (check your car’s manual), and if you can change your pinion gear for one that is two to four teeth smaller than standard, you will be able to get a little extra acceleration as you go from corner to corner in 'chase' drift mode.
The HPI D-Box Drift Assist System (#80588) is the ultimate piece of drifting kit. You can make your car look the business, but sometimes it’s just too hard to get it to gracefully drift exactly the way you want. The solution to this is the D-Box! This amazing piece of technology plugs in between your receiver and the steering servo of any Nitro or electric car to act as an electronic driving aid!
It precisely detects the speed, steering angle and drift angle of the car as it enters a corner, and corrects your steering input to the exact amount of steering needed to get the car around a corner with maximum drift angle and minimum fuss! You can even tune how much steering angle you want to get from the car as it goes around a bend, making this the must-have piece of kit for any drifter! It’s the ultimate drive-by-wire system!
With either Nitro or electric cars, the tuning options for drifting are roughly the same. Rear sway bars and stiffer tuning springs are the basic suspension upgrades you should look at. Leave the shock oil standard until you get used to really tuning the car for drifting. Don’t use a front one-way diff, but if you can, adjust the gear or ball diffs you have in the car for firmer action – tighten them up well if you’re able to. If you have a locked diff or 'spool', try it in the front after you’ve had some practice with the standard diff. As always when trying drivetrain or suspension options, try drifting with the standard setup first, then change one thing at a time and note the way the car changes behaviour as you try different pieces of equipment. For detailed driving tips, check out the HPI Stage-D Drift Driving Technique tips sheet (PDF), and check out the official HPI Drift Tuning video with HPI's resident drift experts! As for other options, remember with drifting it’s all about the 'show' as well as the 'go'! So aluminium upgrades and options are as high on the list as chrome wheels and racing wings. Here is a list of options you should check out to really put the ‘oooohhh!’ in Do-rif-to! #75142 - PRO ALUMINUM THREADED SHOCK SET (48-60mm / 2pcs) #75194 - COMPETITION ALUMINUM THREADED SHOCK SET (46-56 / 2pcs) #72063 - CONE WASHER 3.0mm / 4-40 FLATHEAD (PURPLE / 6pcs) #Z076 - ALUMINUM TP. FLAT HEAD SCREW M3x8mm (5pcs) #Z678 - ALUMINUM THIN LOCK NUT M4 (PURPLE / 5pcs) #Z679 - WHEEL NUT M4 (PURPLE / 5pcs) #38202 - ALUMINUM ANTENNA HOLDER (PURPLE) #72036 - ALUMINUM HEX HUB CLAMP TYPE (6mm / 4pcs) #7119 - TOURING CAR REAR WING SET (2 TYPES / 190mm / Clear ) #7120 - TOURING CAR REAR WING SET (2 TYPES / 200mm / Clear ) #85197 - MOLDED WING SET (2 TYPES 1 / 10 SCALE BLACK) #85193 - WING MOUNT SET (MOLDED PLASTIC / BLACK) Sprint 2 chassis parts #73829 - MAIN CHASSIS 2.5mm (WOVEN GRAPHITE) #73108 - WOVEN GRAPHITE UPPER DECK 2.0mm (FOR SADDLE PACK) Nitro 3 chassis parts #33432 - STAGE-D CONVERSION SET FOR NITRO 3 #73914 - SUPER CHASSIS (3mm 7075) #72215 - GEAR DIFF ADJUSTMENT SPRING SET(MED.. FIRM. STIFF) #73056 - UPPER DECK (WOVEN GRAPHITE) #73047 - FRONT SHOCK TOWER (WOVEN GRAPHITE) #73048 - REAR SHOCK TOWER (WOVEN GRAPHITE) Micro options #73419 - SOLID DRIVE SET #72333 - CHASSIS TYPE B (MICRO RS4) 1075 - LED LIGHT SET (MICRO RS4) #73421 - WING SET (BLACK / MICRO RS4) #Z678 - ALUMINUM THIN LOCK NUT M4 (PURPLE / 5pcs) #72459 - CONCOURS ACCESSORY SET (MICRO RS4) #73430 - MIRROR AND MUFFLER STAY SET (MICRO RS4) #Z154 - TITANIUM ANTENNA SET (MICRO RS4) #73421 - WING SET (BLACK / MICRO RS4) #73405 - WING MOUNT SET (MICRO RS4) For more information about drifting real cars, see the following sites: European Drift Championships Driftworks D1 Grand Prix Series (with links to UK and US sites)

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